Friday, April 14, 2006

West Tennessee Liberal -- for life?

I've spotted a liberal with serious qualms about abortion. Sightings of this bird are rare, and all steps should be taken to nurture this endangered species:
I'm a flipp-flopper on abortion. I have deep moral and religious problems with abortion. To steal a line from Jim Wallis, I believe in a consistent ethic of life and do not support abortion, the death penalty, or most wars. (Unlike some people though, this belief makes me support, not oppose, stem cell research.) The woman's rights are vitally important, but so are the child's. I wouldn't support totally ending abortion, however. If abortion was banned totally that would just result in deaths from back-alley abortions and other desperate measures that would destroy no small number of women's lives. I support significant limitations on abortion, however. I might even support not allowing it outside of the first trimester except when the mother's life is in danger.

He goes on.

My reply:
Groovy. You're going in my blog roundup du jour.

Now, to address some of the things you say:

1. Unlike some people though, this belief makes me support, not oppose, stem cell research. All the pro-lifers I know support stem cell research. Adult and cord-blood stem cell research, which actually is providing cures in the here and now, not in the sweet by-and-by when the promised Utopia of embryonic stem cell treatments arises. For more, see Do No Harm.

2. If abortion was banned totally that would just result in deaths from back-alley abortions and other desperate measures that would destroy no small number of women's lives. Legal abortion likewise destroys women's lives. The problem of abortion mortality was being corrected long, long before the first states started legalizing. The numbers were falling, falling, falling, then started to level off after legalization. And then the CDC changed their data collection system to "If they crawl into our office and die, we'll count them." Okay, that's an exaggeration. But not by a whole lot.

3. I support significant limitations on abortion, however. We don't just need limitations on abortion. We need laws in place to protect women from being coerced into unwanted abortions -- especially women with health problems or facing a prenatal diagnosis.

The Republicans don't really want to make a difference on this issue, though. Case in point, they could easily have the votes to ban late term abortion, but since they insist on not allowing a mother's life exception it will likely be struck down by the Supreme Court again. Actually, there's no need for a "life of the mother" exception, because even before legalization doctors were able to do whatever they felt was necessary to protect the woman's life -- up to and including the "destructive operation" that crushed the baby's skull in the birth canal. And they leave out the "health" exception because that's a loophole so large you could steer a cruise ship through it. The fatal abortion George Tiller performed on Christin Gilbert (pictured) was supposedly necessary for "health" reasons, but Christin was in the third trimester, 28 weeks pregnant. Any threat to her health or life could have been dealt with at home, in a fully-equipped hospital, with a routine c-section. We can't protect women by giving abortionists leeway in determining what constitutes maternal "health."

5. We need to have more sex ed, prenatal care, job training, better access to health-care, etc. to decrease the need for abortion. I agree about the prenatal care, health care access, etc. But I think the PP-style sex ed is part of the problem. Carol Everett, who used to run a chain of abortion clinics in Texas, loved it when PP went in and did talks at the schools because her clinic would see a huge upswing in kids coming in for birth control. They'd then put them on low-dose Pills that had to be taken at the same time every day to be effective. The goal, Carol said, was to sell each girl 3 to 5 abortions before she was out of her teens. And sex education was a key part of her marketing plan.

So we have to be really careful about the kind of sex ed kids get.

6. It makes me sick when some conservatives claim that anyone who supports choice in any way is a demonic, baby-killer, while at the same time they oppose ways of decreasing the need for abortions. First of all, we're not opposed to "choice", we're opposed to abortion. Second of all, it's a mistake to assume that people who claim to support "choice" are really supporting the woman's choice. See prior links about coerced abortions.

That said, yeah, I'm guilty of demonizing abortion proponents. Sometimes it's hard to see past the indifference to women who die because they trust abortion providers. When supporters of abortion blow off the deaths of Christin Gilbert, Vivian Tran, Holly Patterson, Chanelle Bryant, Oriane Shevin, Brenda Vise, and so on, it's hard to believe they're motivated by concern for women. It does start to look like they just hate fetuses and consider the women to be acceptable collateral damage in the war against the fetal scourge. So, yeah, mea cupla. But I demand a reduced penance on the grounds of extreme provocation.

7. At the same time, there are members of my own party (I'm not at all saying all pro-choice people, but we all know people like this) who make it out that anyone who doesn't think abortions should be freely allowed any time, any place with no moral issues involved is a woman-hating Neanderthal.

Amen, amen, amen, amen.

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